An authentic approach to quality child care.
For the past three years, our community has been considering how to grow an authentic approach to quality across the child care and early years’ sector. We have typically been a profession that thrives on compliance models or checklists; however, we recognize that compliance is rarely more than meeting standards and often doesn’t impact practice in meaningful ways.
In January 2015, we declared the main objective of the Quality Initiative was to provide continuous professional learning opportunities and resources across the full spectrum of child care and early learning professionals. We pledged to provide accessible opportunities and resources for professionals to share and learn together and from each other (collaborative inquiry) as well as to provide a mechanism for practitioners to reflect on and deepen their understanding of their work (scope of practice) through a collaborative inquiry focus.
In January 2016, we launched the Quality Child Care Coordinating Committee Strategic Plan (2016-2018), with six strategic directions to focus on throughout the next three years.
1. Accessible Professional Learning:
Opportunities for practitioners to grow at their own pace; that can encourage reflection and inquiry, and will thoughtfully scaffold learning, are imperative for professional growth. Working collectively to promote and build our professional capacity will provide high-quality early years, school age and family support programs to benefit our youngest learners.
In order to embrace the complexity of our work and to seek out multiple perspectives, professional learning, offered in multiple contexts is paramount. The introduction of our Guiding Principles (revised January 2015) and the systematic use of the Communities of Practice (CoP) model has provided consistency and a predictable framework for our professional learning opportunities. Practitioners know what to expect and have embraced the idea of facilitated discussions to enhance their learning.
“Communities of Practice is the best way to share perspectives and collaborate ideas with others that come from other organizations.”
“I am in love with conferences/workshops designed in this format. The interaction and idea and information sharing far surpass any workshops attended in the past. I learn far better through reflection and sharing.”
(Participant feedback, Winter Rethink 2016)
The outcome of this priority will be that practitioners have the skills and confidence to influence and shape policies and practice in their workplace and within the childcare and early years sector. The use of reflection and self-assessment to continuously improve practice will be inherent.
2. Building Capacity through Pedagogical Leadership:
Mentoring and coaching encourage ongoing learning, provides questions to consider and ensures individuals are aware of the impact of their own actions. Relationships are collaborative and co-constructed, paralleling best practice when engaging with children, families and other practitioners.
Creating a Culture of Mentoring
The Mentor Network working group is developing an intentional mentoring program to sustain and grow the mentoring capacity in our community. Identifying protocols for a new mentoring initiative will ensure there are intentional opportunities to connect with other practitioners to grow professionally and transform their practice.
Coming Together for Collective Impact
We understand buying into a process can be challenging. We need strong leadership to share information and advocate for collective impact. We need “champions” at the table to engage in conversations, provide multiple perspectives and to share the information in an impactful way. Investing in the development of pedagogical leaders is critical and essential for enhancing quality. As a community, we are committed to offering opportunities and resources that will build strong pedagogical leaders across the sector.
Leading through Change
Currently, four professional networks support the early learning and child care professionals. Each one is facilitated using our Guiding Principles with the vision of:
- deepening relationships
- brainstorming strategies
- sharing best practices
- discussing emerging trends
These networks strengthen the early learning sector and increase the capacity of individuals and programs to further enhance their practice.
Determining which professional learning opportunities are desired, coupled with determining which opportunities best match our Guiding Principles is a delicate dance. We are ensuring alignment with the expectations of the Ministry of Education and the College of ECE. We are listening to feedback from our community when choosing specific topics and we are intentional with the expert speakers we are bringing in to deliver the messages.
“Continue to development intentional and purposeful content related to best practice and research.”
“Create opportunities to communicate, share in multiple ways like social media, discussion boards, and blogs.”
“Provide new, engaging styles of teaching; use our knowledge of how children learn to create fun and engaging ways for adults to learn and grow.”
Notes from an Early Years Professional Mentor Network meeting: How do we grow professional learning & practice?
By designing and promoting diverse opportunities for collaborative learning and reflection to occur, we have increased capacity and attendance at our workshops. View our current professional learning opportunities.
Intentional communication promotes motivation and plays a crucial role in altering individual attitudes. An effective and efficient communication system will actively engage our sector and will impact the quality of our work. We heard that a streamlined approach to finding information and accessing resources along with consistent meeting frameworks would support engagement and participation.
The ability to connect remotely will ensure that organizations can participate in a live discussion, or view taped meetings, improving accessibility and increasing membership.
A QCCCC Facebook page was created by our ECL Intern Student as a way to further engage child care and early years practitioners.
Creating environments with open communication where everyone is welcome to participate will actively engage practitioners who work with families and children. Ongoing communication and courageous conversations will alter and impact the quality of our sector. Practitioners who involve themselves in intentional and purposeful conversations will have a vested interest in shifting practice and their own personal growth.
4. Strengthening Relationships:
It is imperative that all practitioners working with children and families are sharing common messaging and best practices. Strengthening relationships with key stakeholders and community partners is crucial to a cohesive, seamless system.
The development of a strong funding model and the enhancement of relationships with key stakeholders and neighbouring counties will bring confidence and longevity to our main objectives and strategies.
To learn more about the London-Middlesex Quality Initiative, you can review our complete Strategic Plan.
Personal and collective impact will grow quality practice! Our meetings are held the 2nd Friday of the month, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. To be added to our email list to receive meeting agendas and minutes, contact:
Sheri Spriggs, Project Manager
519-434-3644 ext 639